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D Major: Scale, Chords & Progression

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  • 0:00 About D Major
  • 0:48 Scale & Key Signature
  • 1:22 Chords in D Major
  • 2:30 D Major Chord Progressions
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Erika Svanoe

Erika has taught several college music courses and has a doctorate of musical arts in conducting.

In this lesson, you will learn about D major. You will also explore the D major scale, the triads that occur in D major and some common chord progressions in that key. You'll be able to test your learning with a short quiz.

About D Major

When a piece of music is in D major, that tells us several things. First, the tonal center of the piece will be the pitch 'D.' That means that the melody and harmonies will usually return to D as a kind of 'home base' at the end of the piece and at several points during the music. Think of a baseball batter who begins at home plate. They might hit the ball and run around the bases, but the goal will be to eventually return to home base. Similarly, in D major, there will be other notes played in the piece, but the melody and harmonies want to return 'home' to D.

In the key of D major, melodies will sound like they want to return home to the pitch D.
home plate

Second, we know that D major is in a major key, as opposed to a minor key. Major keys generally tend to sound bright, happy and uplifting, while minor keys tend to sound more dark, gloomy or somber.

Scale and Key Signature

The D major scale, like all major scales, is built from seven different pitches with the eighth note of the scale repeated at the end. The D major scale begins on D and moves up by step, returning eventually back to D. The key signature (highlighted in yellow below) for D major has two sharps: F-sharp (F#) and C-sharp (C#). This means that all Fs and Cs will be played a half-step higher in pitch as F-sharps and C-sharps. The notes of the scale are: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#.

D Major

Chords in D Major

There are seven triads that occur naturally in D major. Triads are chords with three notes that are built in thirds, which is every other note of the D major scale. The quality of the chord for each scale degree is the same as any other major key. The specific triads that occur in D-major are:

Triads that occur in D major
d major chords

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